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I have a few questions after attending your webcast on Essential Certifications for Network and Syst

I just listened to your presentation "Essential Certifications for Network and System Administrators" and have an education path question.

I have 25 years of SNA experience. The last 10 years of which also includes IP on the mainframe. I don't wish to jump off this platform yet. I enjoy pouring over packet traces when protocol problems arise (I like puzzles?).

Over the years I've taken IBM courses pertaining to IP configuration, performance and availability on the m/f. I've also taken CISCO router configuration classes so that I could talk sensibly to our WAN folks. I've found over the years that very few people understand both IP and SNA.

I've recently started studying for the CCNA exam, to get a better understanding of the routing protocols and IP internals. I thought maybe the CCNA first and then CCIP?

Do you think this is a good path? I look forward to your opinion.

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Given your background and your interests, it sounds to me like you're either close to or exactly on the right trail. It isn't clear from your e-mail if you work at a service provider organization or in a similar "deep infrastructure" role. If that's the case, the CCIP's for you; if not, you might want to consider the CCNP instead.

The only other recommendation I could make would be to look at certifications that pertain to protocol analysis and think about following up your CCIP or CCNP with one or more of these credentials. You can visit an article I wrote in this general area at InformIT.com entitled "Understanding Protocol Analysis" (you'll be particularly interested in the certs covered in Table 2 therein, but be warned that Network Associates has just spun off the Sniffer group into a new organization, which is resuming its original company name -- namely, Network General -- so you might have to use Google or something to correct the URLs therein; as I write this, however, they're still working).

This was first published in May 2004

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